Forget everything you know
“The fish rots from the head.”
If you got your start in leadership during the 90s, this is definitely a statement you’ve heard before, and one you may even have bought into.
Sad to say, it’s not true. Let me ask you this: Does a leader really hold all the power, when society shows us that people who are dissatisfied have a propensity to disrupt the status quo? Just look at what happened in our last municipal elections. I’ll say it again: no matter how strong the leadership at the top of an organisation, if you’re trying to provide direction for people who feel disengaged and discontented, your initiatives will fall flat.
In an era where people are used to having their say – on Facebook, on Twitter – and have come to relish using their voices and seeing that their words wield power, autocratic leadership isn’t going to cut it. Today’s employees don’t want to be dictated to. They don’t want to be told about what values they should hold dear. And they certainly don’t want to pretend that they are part of a happy family culture when, in fact, that company culture is something that’s been imposed on them.
So, what do they want? Simple: to be part of creating the organisation’s fabric. To have their opinions noted and acted on in the workplace, just as they are in their personal lives.
The new emphasis on co-creation is why transformational leadership has come to define successful organisations. It’s a model that’s as simple as it is effective and, dare we say it, obvious. It hinges on involving the very people who will be impacted by any changes made within your organisation: your employees. It’s about asking them how they believe improvements can be made, what you need to be doing more of, and which practices should be discarded altogether.
And that’s important, because not even an enthusiastic, compassionate, dynamic (insert any positive adjective here) leader can make a difference to an organisation that’s floundering under the weight of employee lassitude.
Guy Martin is the founder & Managing Director of Blueprints: assisting CEOs to drive growth by increasing the alignment of their people to business goals by 50% within an 18 month period.